As noted by our friends over at Retronauts (and many others), today marks what would have been the 100th birthday of the man many call the father of video games, Ralph Baer. It’s hard to say, but without Baer’s work as an inventor and pioneer that developed the first video game console for the home with the Magnavox Odyssey, the industry would look very different today.
Born in Germany on 8th March 1922, Baer and his family moved to America when he was a teenager. Baer signed up to the National Radio Institute as a radio service technician, and graduated in 1940. Just three years later, he was drafted into the army to fight in World War II, where he served in military intelligence.
Upon the war’s end, Baer enrolled at the American Television Institute of Technology and graduated in 1949 with a degree in Television Engineering.
Baer has a storied history within the electronics industry, with his many inventions leading the way for console and home gaming. His Brown Box was one of his earliest creations, which started off as a humble idea to simply play games on a television. Which seems to have caught on! Except, you know, when you’re playing in handheld mode.
In 2006, Baer donated many of his prototypes and documents to the Smithsonian Institution, but he never stopped building and playing around with electronics. His creations go beyond just inspiring and pioneering many aspects of the video game industry, but we’re sure many who have a love of technology and video games in particular will be celebrating his life today.
We paid tribute to Baer when he passed away in 2014, covering a few more of his incredible creations, including the machine that inspired Atari’s Pong machine, which is what ultimately earned him his now-famous moniker ‘The Father of Video Games’.